We had previously demonstrated that a complex herbal formulation (Mentat; Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore) attenuated anterograde and retrograde amnesia induced by electroconvulsive shocks (ECS) in rats. We later showed that a simplified formulation (Memorin; Phyto Pharma, Kolhapur) had similar effects.
In an attempt to identify the ingredients (of the complex formulation), which purveyed the cognitive benefits, we studied two of the constituent herbs, Brahmi and Mandookaparni, separately and together. The experiments included both active (piracetam) and inactive (vehicle) controls.
Adult, male, Sprague-Dawley rats (n=8 per group) were randomized to receive Brahmi, Mandookaparni, a combination of these two herbs (A300), piracetam, or vehicle from days 1 to 15. On days 11 and 12, the rats were trained in a T-maze using a food-driven paradigm. On days 13 and 14, half the rats in each group received 2 ECS (60 mC charge) per day, 5 hours apart. On day 15, recall of pre-ECS learning was assessed. On day 16, transfer of learning was assessed.
None of the active treatments facilitated pre-ECS learning or influenced ECS seizure duration; however, all showed varying but generally favourable profiles in the attenuation of ECS-induced retrograde and anterograde amnesia. The combination of Brahmi and Mandookaparni showed no especial advantage over the individual herbs.
Brahmi and Mandookparni do not in themselves improve learning; however, each attenuates the amnestic effects of ECS without showing synergism in this beneficial action. Exercises in research and development are indicated to further investigate the anti-amnestic properties of these herbs, and to identify the specific chemical constituents which have procognitive effects.
"The lack of biological sampling in these human studies prohibits speculation upon the biological mechanism of these nootropic effects in humans. Evidence from animal studies suggests that BM may acutely improve cognition when an animal is stressed or cognitively challenged (Andrade and Chandra 2006a; Saraf et al. 2008). "
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